She was born on April 23, 1914. At seventeen she decided on a career as scenic artist and stage manager, studying at Newcastle at the Armstrong College, at the Slade under Vladimir Polunin and Michel St. Denis and gained practical experience in several theatres including the Old Vic.
During the war she worked for E.N.S.A,, in particular with the Arts Theatre, which was one of the only two theatres in London that never closed down in the 'Blitz'. Subsequently she became a regional officer in C.E.M.A., now the Arts Council.
After the war she was for a time the stage manager of the Ballet Rambert and the English Opera Group. She has continued to work as a stage manager, and occasionally as an actress, in London, the provinces, and abroad. She has worked with Sadlers Wells and other opera companies.
Since 1977 she has been a Councillor on Equity, and since 1927 Part-time Chairman of the Stage Management Board of the National Council for Drama Training.
A keen amateur contralto, she has been a member of the Westminster Choral Society since 1977.
- Lidderdale, Robert Halliday, An Account of the Lowland Scots Family of Lidderdale, 1950 unpublished manuscript.
- Lidderdale, Halliday Adair, The Descendants of John Lidderdale 1783-1845, 1988 unpublished manuscript.
Obituary: Alice Lidderdale
A former Equity Councillor and member of the union for more than 60 years, Alice Lidderdale died in hospital on 24 March, one month short of her 92nd birthday.
Born in London on 23 April 1914, Alice spent her childhood in Newcastle, where her father had been posted by the Bank of England. Frequent visits to the theatre stirred her interest in stage design and she studied at the Newcastle School of Art, for a while in Paris and at the Slade, where she was influenced by the Russian emigré set designer Vladimir Kolinin. She later worked as a scene painter at the Old Vic.
In 1935, she spent a year at the London Theatre Studio attending both a designers' and a directors' course, but was dismissed by Michel St. Denis who thought her "unsympathetic" when she sided with the actors over a designer's set with an enormous rake. This was an early example of her concern for others.
Not finding much employment, an actress friend suggested that she try stage management, saying "you won't be much good at it, but it'll keep you going". It did for the next 46 years.
Starting in weekly rep at the Richmond Theatre, she did well and rapidly rose to Stage Director. She had joined Equity and, over the years, became much involved in its work for her fellow members.
Early in the Second World War, Alice stage-managed shows for troops, presented by Richard Stone, at first touring army camps and then with weekly variety shows, Black Knights, at Purley. Next came her first involvement with ballet, at the Arts Theatre, for Harold Williams. On tour with this company she found herself managing all the technical aspects of production, including lighting.
In 1941 followed work for ENSA, with a production of Fresh Fields, on a 'No. 2' tour of army barracks. The remaining three and a half years of the war found her in administration for the Council for the Encouragement of Music and the Arts, firstly as Regional Officer for the South West, based in an office in the derelict Theatre Royal, Bristol, then transferring to London as Regional Officer South East. This work involved promoting and making all the arrangements for music concerts.
Soon after the war, pining for a return to the theatre, she was seconded by CEMA as stage manager to the Ballet Rambert. This marked a long association with the company with which she toured, and involved an adventurous early visit to Germany. This was, perhaps, one of her most rewarding and fruitful periods.
Later, Alice worked with various opera companies and visiting foreign dance companies, as well as on straight plays and musicals. In the 1990s she made a few appearances, in non-speaking roles, on television, her last engagement being as a patient in a waiting room in Casualty.
In June 2000, Alice recorded an interview for the Association of British Theatre Technicians about her life's work. A copy of this interview has been deposited with the Theatre Museum.
As her long career progressed, Alice became more involved with Equity, serving on many committees and working parties, not least the Stage Management Committee, and she eventually sat on Equity's Council, with a couple of short breaks, from 1977 to 1994. She also served on the National Council for Drama Training and the Save London's Theatres Campaign and was particularly proud of the work of the International Committee for Artists' Freedom. When the West End Stage Management Association (now the SMA) was formed in 1954, Alice initially suspected it was anti-Equity but joined after a year or so and gave the Association many years of active service, becoming a Deputy Chairman and, in her last year, Vice President.
With Equity and the SMA she spent many years fighting for recognition of the profession of stage management. She was particularly concerned that low pay meant that so many left the profession or even the theatre altogether.
he was a committed member of The Actors' Church Union and, sustained by her deep religious faith throughout her life and to the end, Alice was a valued member of the church at St. Mary The Boltons, where she was a member of the choir, an accomplished reader and was involved in many of the churches other activities, not least the catering, throughout her adult life, which was dominated by her interest in the welfare of others, in particular that of members of all branches of her chosen profession.
By Graeme Cruickshank, Equity (http://www.equity.org.uk/)